The tech industry is playing a growing role in fighting climate change through efforts such as zero-carbon commitments while pushing for the use of data to encourage energy efficiency, Amy writes.
Why it matters: Big Tech already dominates our economy, politics and culture. Its efforts in helping to address climate change — and reckon with its own role in contributing to it — could have similarly transformative impacts.
Driving the news: Amazon and Shopify revealed the first recipients of their $2 billion and $5 million respective investment funds this week. Microsoft has a similar fund of $1 billion.
- CarbonCure Technologies, which makes climate-friendly concrete, just announced investments from Amazon and Microsoft (among others). Shopify is also backing the firm.
- Other startups receiving tech money include Pachama, which uses AI to preserve forests, and TurnTide Technologies, which makes efficient motors for things like HVAC and refrigerators.
"Each one has something very different to offer," Kara Hurst, Amazon's global lead on sustainability, said at a virtual Axios event Thursday.
- "But there is a unifying theme that they are driving decarbonization and they have the potential to lower our carbon footprint."
The big picture: Tech firms have been leading investors into energy startups since 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.
- But they face pressure from their employees and the public about their own carbon footprints as well as their deals helping fossil fuel companies.
- In what is likely at least a partial acknowledgement of that pressure, Microsoft announced this week it was partnering with BP to help the oil giant cut its emissions.
The bottom line: The amount of money the firms are investing is tiny compared to bottom lines. PR concerns about corporate social responsibility is probably a driving factor too. But, IEA chief statistician Nick Johnstone points out: “I don’t care about their motivations if it does some good.”